By adopting a set of anti-phishing computer ethics, we can protect ourselves online from the threat of con artists and scammers.
Anti-Phishing Computer Ethics
Staying safe online is paramount in a day and age where threats lurk around the corner of every website. While it is easy to avoid visiting certain websites that might host threats (thanks to Google warnings and the tools provided by some security sites) preventing more direct threats such as phishing can be tough, as you never quite know where these attempts to steal your personal data are going to come from.
However with the right software, an extra email account and a new philosophy about shopping online, you can adopt anti-phishing computer ethics and protect yourself from serious financial loss.
Protecting yourself from phishing first requires some specific software that can detect websites and emails that are associated with attempts to fool you into divulging your personal data.
Almost all Internet security suites come with an anti-phishing component which is usually in two parts, one that checks the websites you’re visiting and another that checks your email inbox for obvious phishing attempts.
If you are unable to afford a security suite with this level of functionality, you should consider taking advantage of the most up-to-date browsers from Microsoft (Internet Explorer) or Mozilla (Firefox) which are designed to protect the user from these types of online threats. Also ensure that you’re using the most up-to-date version of your chosen email client and that this offers protection against phishing emails. Mozilla Thunderbird is a good alternative if yours doesn't offer protection.
Secondary Email Account
Most phishing attempts come via email, usually linking to a spoofed website of a popular bank or online payment service.
One good way to prevent your data from being phished is to operate two email accounts. The first you should use for secure sites and personal contact with friends and relatives, while the second would be used for social networking sites, forum memberships and so on.
There is little chance that a reputable online store like Amazon would allow its data to be hacked and your email address farmed; similarly there are many tools that hackers use to scour the web for email addresses, often selling these on to anyone that wants them. With a library of fresh email addresses, potential phishers can then dispatch their spoof emails with the hope of ensnaring another innocent victim.
Using a web-based email service such as Windows Live or Gmail is a good way of protecting yourself from phishing attempts, as their active protection against these threats will discard such emails before they reach your inbox.
Shopping Safe and Secure
Being aware of different forms of online security that are used when shopping online is another good example of anti-phishing computer ethics.
Any website that asks you to login or enter payment information at some point should offer a secure means of doing so, and all sites should have a secure method of actually using the payment information (whether this be a credit card, debit card, PayPal or similar service).
So how do you know if these sites are using secure methods?
There are two things to look out for:
The http:// portion of the website’s address will change to https://
In the most recent versions of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer (and other browsers) the favicon will change to green or blue (depending on the browser) to indicate that you’re using a secure website.
Following a set of ethics in this way can help to protect you against online threats – and they can help others too, so don’t forget to share them.